Well it hasn’t taken the political scientists and think tanks in Kyiv very long to start speculating over what the change of the French presidency will mean with regards to Kyiv and Ukraine.
Why would it? These people are paid to state what they think. Unfortunately they, like most political commentators, internal or external of Ukraine, will either state the blindingly obvious or slant things towards the bias of their paymasters.
So, let us have a look at the pearls of wisdom that have come forth (and I will do it all in English to save any of you the trouble of translation).
Institute of Global Strategies Director, Vadim Karasev: “This victory is good news for Victor Yanukovych. This may give rise to restart relations with the European elite, with whom Mr Yanulovych finally soured relations.”
He also went on to say that it is a blow to the Tymoshenko camp, stating, ” Now some of the lobbying capabilities in the EU, France, is lost to Tymoshenko.”
Hmmm – Really?
Whilst it is true that there is a great deal to be said for personal relationships amongst political leaders on the international stage, and it is also true that the demise of Sarkozy may result in a weakened EPP, the EU umbrella party to which both Tymoshenko and Sarkozy belonged, does that mean Mr Hollande will close the door to Ms Tymoshenko’s plight or human rights?
Now “Mer-kozy” is past and we now have “Mer-de” instead, (yes I know that means “shit” in French but it is funny and may well yet prove to be an apt name for the new Franco/German tandem), there will be trials and tribulations between these leaders, but also areas where easy political harmony can be found for the sake of public unity appearances.
Mr Hollande, like Ms Merkel have issues at home and within the broader Eurozone. An unnecessary divergence over Ms Tymoshenko in public? Hardly, when it is an easy political unity “win” to show to the rest of the world. In short, there is little likelihood of a falling out over Ms Tymoshenko’s situation, when as many points of joint easily achieved public agreements are needed, no matter what they are.
Next we have Viktor Nebozhenko, political scientists of the” Ukrainian Barometer” who claims, “Regardless of who came to power now in France, in the next year the relationship between France and Ukraine will not change.”
Now that is a safe prediction given the current situation, however as the saying goes, 24 hours is a long time in politics, and things change rapidly. As Harold McMillan once stated when asked what he feared most, “Events dear boy, events.”
Now there are events in Ukraine and several of them in the next few months. There is the Euro 2012 who some are trying to politicise and others attempting to keep it a purely sporting event, and then there is the parliamentary elections in October in Ukraine which could well see the current government replaced by the opposition parties. (The presumption is that should the opposition win, Ms Tymsoehnko will be released very swiftly, however that may not be the case with President Yanukovych remaining as President until 2015 before he is up for reelection.)
There is also the fact that whilst the issue of Ms Tymoshenko (and others) make the headlines, there is also numerous statements from EU bodies welcoming certain reforms and laws that have been passed under the Yanukovych tenure so far, and as such those positives have been recognised by France as an EU Member.
How much time and effort Mr Hollande will give to Ukraine is really rather unknown. He certainly has some very big fish to fry domestically and internationally the markets have not reacted well to the democratic decision of the French people. As far as foreign policy is concerned however, it remains to be seen where and how Mr Hollande will make his mark outside of the EU. In the old French colonial territories or the EU bordering nations perhaps?
In short, it is far too soon to be making any predictions, particularly as he does not take office until 15th May and who knows what will happen between then and now, other than predictable and unpredictable “events.”
The Ukrainian foreign policy position must surely be to drive a wedge between France and Germany over Ms Tymoshenko if they plan to leave her in prison. As yet, it remains to be seen if a crack appears into which a wedge can be pushed.
Too soon to say how the Franco/Ukrainian relationship will change, or even if it will change, so I won’t be jerking my knee just yet with predictions and pontifications.
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Possibly more exciting than the guesses relating to the new French presidency towards Ukraine, is that tomorrow, on what is known as Victory Day in the FSU (and more politically correctly as Europe Day within the EU), is that there will be a guest blog, fingers crossed, relating to Odessa, The Great Patriotic War/WWII, Hero City status and something for the TAOW/war-gaming community as well!
If that fails, then you will be struck with more ruminations from me – Apologies in advance.